contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / June 2023

Fiume dell’Amazzonia (River of the Amazon)
Marina Paris

42 cm x 32 cm
ph: Giorgio Benni

The collage “Fiume dell’Amazzonia” (River of the Amazon), from the series “Urban Fragments” by Marina Paris, shows a neoclassical building in its urban environment. The entrance is a portico with a triangular tympanum and on the rearward building section is a tholobate with a dome. Moreover, there is an apse left-hand of the edifice. The building is the “Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele” (Teatro Massimo) in Palermo, Sicily, the biggest one in Italy and one of the largest opera houses in Europe. In the background, the city of Palermo with its surrounding mountains is visible. Particularly striking is a skyscraper on the right hand of the Teatro Massimo, due to its contrast to the historical edifice. Because of its size, the framed black and white picture seems to be a postcard. Though, there is a white irregular tear line with crack edges in the lower part of the image. This line draws a jagged arc, which cuts off the lower section of the building, in a high of a third, but in the portico area almost the half. Under the tear line, the Teatro Massimo and a part of its environment are mirrored like on a water surface. However, unlikely as the introduction of a tear line in a traditional postcard, is the imagined reflexion on a liquid plane, because this area of the image has more the form of a wave. But the surface of a wave would not be even enough to reproduce the building so exactly.

It seems like the edifice is the main actor of the composition, not only by its central position, but also by its duplication. This could be a hint to the history of it. By its size, the Teatro Massimo is a monumental expression of Europe’s musical culture and architecture in the 19th century. At the same time, the opera house points with the history of its place to the declining dominance of the church by secularisation, since the former church “San Francesco delle Stimmate” and the monastery “San Giuliano” had been demolished for it.

Nonetheless, by introducing the tear line with the mirrored opera house into the old postcard of her collection, Marina might refer to the environment of the opera house. Even though situated in the centre of Palermo, the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea is not far. Turning the picture upside down, one might even recognize the northern shoreline of the island Sicily. Otherwise, the tear line in the unrotated collage could be an allusion to the Monte Pellegrino and other mountains in the back-up area of Palermo. Additionally, the reflecting water surface might be an evocation of the numerous fountains of the town. However, the title of the collage refers to the River of the Amazon. A glance at the course of the stream reveals that the tear line reproduces it. Herewith, the artist introduces an element far from the actual environment of the place. In fact, this white line was the point of departure in the creative process and the two postcard parts are added to make it visible. It is the real protagonist of the work, which is the base to create a new space. Despite the traditional postcard style that refers to the past, a new urban landscape occurred. It is an in the common reality impossible world: improbable by the location in the city and not comprehensible as realistic image of a town. A bygone place has been transformed to an innovative setting, a meta world, due to the artistic intervention.


Marina Paris

Born in 1965 in Sassoferrato, Italy, Marina Paris worked from the end 1990s for twenty years in a studio which she shared with other artists. It was a huge space with a lot of different materials, where she could realise installations, big drawings and sculptures. Moreover, it was a location of encounter and exchange with other artists, gallerists and curators. This time had an impact on her artistic practice and her use of various media. Besides the already stated, photography and video are other elements, combined with a particular interest in architecture, to reflect on space and the relationship between human being and environment.

Two years ago, Marina moved to a smaller studio, less agitated, but more intimate for concentration and reflexion. However, she continues to take her inspiration from a wall, where she collects photos, drawings, sketches, postcards and much more. Still, her artistic research is focussed on space. The outcome might be site-specific installations, photographed locations or like in her series “Urban Fragments” old postcards from various places in Italy. All of these collages have titles referring to geographic maps. One of these, “Fiume dell’Amazzonia” (River of the Amazon) from 2019, is our artwork of the month of June 2023.

Since many years, Marina frequently has solo exhibitions in galleries and art spaces, mostly in Italy, but also in Lyon, Saint-Étienne and Prague. With her participations in many group shows, her artworks travelled also to Switzerland, Poland and Serbia and beyond the European Continent to Canada, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and China. She held lectures at the Cornell University, Giunty Academy, ISFCI – Istituto Superiore di Fotografia (all in Rome), at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Macerata and in the Parkview Museum in Beijing, China, to name a few. Moreover, she was selected for the residence “Artist Exchange Program“ at the Tashkeel Art Center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2008. For her video-animation “Less than five Minutes” she was awarded with the International Film Critics Award of the Laura Filmfestival, July Galleria Vallesanta Levanto – Bonassola, Italy in 2011.

Marina lives and works in Rome.